This month marks the beginning of a regular series of regional profiles designed to promote our investments and highlight the role WestJet is playing in developing the economy and creating jobs throughout Canada.
Some 15 years after our initial service and more than 130,000 flights later, the love affair between Canada’s Ocean Playground and Canada’s most-trusted airline continues.
WestJet launched service to Halifax on a chilly day in late February of 2003, and to Sydney on a much warmer day in May of 2009. Service from YHZ began with non-stop flights to Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal that first year, and Toronto in 2004. We connected Cape Breton Island with Toronto right off the bat, and thanks to the launch of WestJet Encore, added service to Halifax in 2015. Those early flights to and from Nova Scotia laid the foundation for substantial growth in the years that followed, both for WestJet and for the provincial economy.
Today, WestJet offers Nova Scotians non-stop flights to 17 destinations including Glasgow, Paris and London. In 2018, we are scheduled to operate nearly 9,500 flights from Halifax Stanfield International Airport and J.A. Douglas McCurdy Airport combined. From YHZ alone, that’s an increase of more than 160 per cent in just the last five years. Indeed, WestJet is responsible for nearly one-third of guest traffic in and out of Halifax.
With a strong social and economic license, WestJet is a major driver of economic growth in Nova Scotia. Our service creates jobs, enables businesses to grow and prosper, improves critical transportation networks to move people and goods, and connects individuals and families around the world. In particular, WestJet is proud to be Canada’s Atlantic Gateway airline and a strong supporter of Nova Scotia’s economic and tourism objectives.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil Joined WestJet President and CEO Ed Sims at WestJet’s Calgary campus recently for a celebration of the airline’s 15 years of investment in the province.
“WestJet’s presence in Nova Scotia has made a significant, positive impact regionally, nationally and internationally,” said Premier McNeil. “That commitment to our province enhances trade, investment and business growth while helping attract more students, immigrants, and visitors. We congratulate the WestJet team for the past 15 years of growth and look forward to even more success in the years ahead.”
According to a 2016 economic impact study conducted by RP Erickson & Associates, the total economic impact of WestJet’s investments in Nova Scotia is calculated at just over $354 million.
In addition to driving overall economic growth, WestJet is creating new opportunities to connect Nova Scotians with the world, and the world with Nova Scotia. Tourism is experiencing rapid growth in the province and in fact, Tourism Nova Scotia has set a goal to double annual tourism revenues to $4 billion a year by 2024. More tourists arrive by air over any other form of transportation, and WestJet is proud to help drive that growth and the myriad benefits it brings to Nova Scotians and the provincial economy.
Within its tourism objectives, Nova Scotia is working to attract visitors from new, previously untapped markets. With non-stop flights to Halifax from Paris, Glasgow and London, WestJet will bring a total of more than 77,000 seats into the province this year from the UK and mainland Europe.
WestJet has also invested in increased access to and from Nova Scotia with flights to other parts of Canada as well as the U.S. Our non-stop daily service between Halifax and Boston is a prime example of our growth in this region as well as responsiveness to our guests. We’re well aware of the strong historical and business connections between the two cities, and in 2016 we launched this service, bringing more choice, more competition and lower fares for Nova Scotians and Bostonians.
Air service is a critical component of any economic growth strategy. And like most commodities, it’s based on supply and demand. On behalf of some 13,000 WestJetters, we thank Nova Scotians for their support and we look forward to many more years of growth and success together.